More Colleges Offering Gender-Neutral Housing

By Staff

May 13, 2009

Both Southern Oregon University and the University of Oregon will be offering gender-neutral dormitories to its students, a living arrangement which allows men and women to share rooms.

"It's for students for don't specify gender on their applications," explained Jason Ebbeling, SOU resident life director, who was quoted in the Mail Tribune. "It's also for students who don't identify with the gender they were born with. It was a group of students who wanted to feel more safe on campus. It can be anyone who chooses to live in that environment."

The area will have one bathroom for men and women, with floor-to-ceiling shower and toilet stalls and private dressing areas attached to the showers. KDRV notes that students reacted to the news with curiosity rather than opposition.

The Mail Tribune notes that 57 other colleges and universities throughout the United States currently provide gender-neutral campus housing.

But at the University of Oregon, the dorms have become a hot issue, reports KDRV. Although the aim was to provide a better environment for gay, lesbian or bisexual students, some are concerned that the arrangement would increase sexual relationships on campus.

In Iowa, Drake University 's student publication, The Times-Delphic [from an article originally located at], reports that the administration is considering gender-neutral housing as well, although some students have expressed doubts about how such an arrangement would work.

"It would be impossible to keep the girl-guy thing out of it," said Nolan Scott, a student at the school. "I think it's a terrible idea."

In Illinois, Northwestern University 's The Daily Northwestern reports that some students are pushing for a gender-neutral housing option, despite a rejection of the proposal by the school's housing and food service policy advisory committee. According to Mugsie Pike, president of Northwestern's Gender Protection Initiative, 700 students signed a petition supporting the housing option. Meanwhile, the committee declined to comment about its decision.

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